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Sun column ping

Mansfield pulls the same old spring tax scam
By Howie Carr | Sunday, April 18, 2010 | | Columnists

This is how you know it’s spring in Massachusetts - the first town threatens to shut down the high school football program unless the voters agree to a property-tax hike.

It’s as predictable as the Boston Marathon gridlock tomorrow. It’s right out of the playbook - the teachers’ union playbook.

This year the town of Mansfield seems to have opened the season. All the stories run together after a while: one side (the school committee) insisting that “this is not a ploy” while the other side (the board of selectmen) scoffs, saying it’s just a “chess game.”

Usually, the selectmen fold, and a Prop 2 override goes onto the ballot. It’s . . . for the children. The hard-pressed taxpayers vote it down in the spring and in some towns they just reschedule a second vote - in July, on a Saturday, when everybody’s at the beach.

Of course, sometimes the school committees and their union pals overplay their hand. For instance, it’s always a bad move to be grabbing state building funds - say, $3 million - to upgrade the high school football field while simultaneously claiming you’re about to eliminate the grid program. That grift has been tried in MetroWest.

The Mansfield School Committee committed a tactical error this week by upgrading the acting high school athletic director to permanent just before they started talking about eliminating athletics.

It’s always important to describe the cuts as “unprecedented,” which, of course, they’re not. Here’s a headline from 1989: “Athletics, clubs get the ax at schools.”

The rationale is, these towns have “fixed costs.” That’s what they call them in the public sector. You and I call them “union sweetheart deals.” None of these municipal workers wants to go into the less Cadillac-y state health insurance plan, and changes are usually negotiable under their contracts.

In the Dreaded Private Sector, you know how such an impasse would be handled. The bosses would say: OK, if you want to keep those nice bennies, we’ll have to start laying you guys off from the bottom of the seniority list. We’ll have to hit everybody who’s been hired since, oh, 1998.

Which in the towns might mean that 60-year-old teachers would be back working as lunch monitors in the cafeteria. Pretty soon, a 5 percent increase in health premiums wouldn’t look so bad.

But in the towns, it’s so much easier to run around crying “The sky is falling! The sky is falling!”

The local pols begin this annual rite of spring by going after services that matter to voters. If they threatened to lay off three assistant deputy associate senior human-resource administrators and take away their cars and gas credit cards, the taxpayers would rejoice.

Instead they make ominous noises about closing a police station or a firehouse. They reduce the hours at the dump or end garbage pickup altogether. Most of all, they threaten the football team.

If this happened on Thanksgiving, the refs would throw a penalty on the town hacks. For unsportmanslike conduct against the taxpayers.
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29 posted on 04/17/2010 9:33:26 PM PDT by raccoonradio
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To: raccoonradio

Herald finally wrote about it.

Carr: Suspension ‘no big deal’
By Jessica Heslam | Sunday, April 18, 2010 | | Media & Marketing

Suspended WRKO host and Boston Herald columnist Howie Carr said yesterday his weeklong, unpaid suspension from the radio station is nothing to get all lathered up about.

“I’m off this week anyway, fleeing the Marathon, so it’s no big deal. I’ll be back soon, finishing my time, as always the happy warrior of AM radio,” Carr told the Herald in a statement.

Carr hasn’t hidden his contempt for the Entercom-owned station since he unsuccessfully tried to jump ship to rival WTKK-FM (96.9) three years ago. On Friday, the big-money host’s fed-up WRKO-AM (680) bosses told him he was being suspended for a week without pay, the Herald confirmed.

Julie Kahn, vice president and market manager of Entercom Boston, and WRKO program director Jason Wolfe didn’t respond to repeated requests for comment yesterday.

Radio analyst Brian Maloney suspects Carr is “attempting to head to another station and they know and they’re not happy.”

Maloney also said he strongly suspects there’s some effort being made to sign Carr at new conservative talk station WXKS-AM (1200), which recently swiped Rush Limbaugh - who preceded Carr on the air weekday afternoons - from WRKO’s lineup. “There’s some real bad blood between Carr and Entercom at this point,” Maloney said.
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30 posted on 04/17/2010 11:03:12 PM PDT by raccoonradio
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